House and Senate pass contradictory Medicaid budget items

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Medicaid cuts got a "thumbs up" in the House but a "thumbs down" in the Senate Thursday as the two legislative bodies passed somewhat opposing budget items.

While the House approved a budget resolution that would slash $20 billion from Medicaid over five years, the Senate voted for an amendment that would remove $14 billion in cuts from its 2006 budget resolution.

Both votes were close. The House voted 218-214 in favor of its budget resolution. The Senate voted 52-48 for its amendment. The Senate is not expected to pass its budget until April.

Provider organizations on Thursday hailed the Senate's passage of the amendment, which calls for replacing $14 billion in cuts with a Bipartisan Medicaid Commission to analyze Medicaid. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR), who is chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), brought the amendment to the Senate floor this week.